Improvised Events in the Museum

Irena Bekić


The pro­ject is reali­zed as a visu­al, dan­ce, ins­tru­men­tal and vocal inte­rac­ti­on of four authors

Andreje Kulunčić [visu­al artist], Zrinke Užbinec [dan­ce artist and cho­re­ograp­her], Jasne Jovićević [saxop­ho­nist and com­po­ser] and Annette Giesriegl [voca­list].


Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, Baunet café and other muse­um pre­mi­ses, September 14 and 16, 2019.


It is a site spe­ci­fic per­for­man­ce desig­ned for the Museum of Contemporary Art, that is, for its cen­tral ver­ti­cal spa­ce the Baunet Café, the arc­hi­tec­tu­re of which lin­ks the sto­reys and spa­ces of the muse­um. But sin­ce this spa­ce has never real­ly been ope­ra­ti­ona­li­sed, the lin­ka­ge with and inter­fe­ren­ce of the spa­ces of the muse­um has rema­ined at the level of idea and noti­on. The per­for­man­ce Improvised Events and the exhi­bi­ti­on that has been pro­du­ced as a result of it ende­avo­ur to react pre­ci­sely to this spa­ti­al and atmosp­he­ric vacu­ity of the muse­um. The four artis­ts, using the­ir own indi­vi­du­al media – video, sound, voice and move­ment and in inte­rac­ti­on with the audi­en­ce acti­va­te the arc­hi­tec­tu­re and set-up of the muse­um, that is, mobi­li­se the fun­da­men­tal com­po­nents of the muse­um struc­tu­re: artis­ts, work, public, col­lec­ti­on, spa­ce and architecture.

The basic struc­tu­re of the work is set up and agre­ed on befo­re­hand, the per­for­mers impro­vi­se on it in a dialo­gue with each other, in a dialo­gue with the spa­ce and in a dialo­gue with the visi­tors. There are four sta­ti­ons, each con­sis­ting of a looper, a microp­ho­ne and a spe­aker, on which during the per­for­man­ce the voca­list and the ins­tru­men­ta­list chan­ge pla­ces in recor­ding loops to be heard during the per­for­man­ce and to which they and the dan­cer react with impro­vi­sa­ti­ons. The per­for­man­ce starts in the foyer of the muse­um with a bass cla­ri­net solo that sets up a mini­ma­list foun­da­ti­on on which the fol­lowing musi­cal per­for­man­ce sub­sequ­en­tly draws. During this time, in the outer part of the muse­um, apart from the audi­en­ce and the music being played, the dan­cer fil­ls the spa­ce with her body in a solo per­for­man­ce. After that come a seri­es of per­for­man­ces that are cons­truc­ted spa­ti­al­ly and end with a sec­ti­on on the roof of the muse­um. During the per­for­man­ce an ins­tan­tly cre­ated com­po­si­ti­on is built up. At the end it is con­nec­ted up, and when it passes on its return thro­ugh the same spa­ce, the audi­en­ce beco­mes awa­re that the com­po­si­ti­on that they have heard, toget­her with tra­ces of the per­for­man­ce that it sees, is a kind of aco­us­tic scul­p­tu­re, a work that cre­ated in its pre­vi­ous passing tho­ugh the muse­um, in the inte­rac­ti­on of the per­for­mers – sound, ima­ge, voice, move­ment — and the audience.

Within the dan­ce part of the pro­ject, the body has got its own line in which it cre­ates awa­re­ness of sen­sa­ti­ons, the invi­si­ble struc­tu­res of the spa­ce, soun­ds, the dyna­mics of move­ment of the audi­en­ce. The dan­ce ima­gi­na­rily fil­ls up the voids, buil­ding an invi­si­ble network.

Along with sound and move­ment, video is the third com­po­nent of the struc­tu­re. If sound and move­ment, pro­vi­si­onal­ly put, fill up the spa­ce, video is the ele­ment of time. The vide­os, that is, offer the public an analyti­cal view of the work and an insig­ht into the parts of the pro­ject that can­not be fol­lowed all at the same time beca­use of the cons­tant alter­na­ti­on of positions.

At the end, the role of the public sho­uld not be neglec­ted. On the one hand, sha­ring the spa­ce with the per­for­mers, the public has an acti­ve part in the cons­truc­ti­on of the ins­tal­la­ti­on. On the other, with the cho­ice of its posi­ti­ons, move­ment, or by focu­sing on one of the simul­ta­ne­ous seg­ments, the public mana­ges its own per­cep­ti­on. In addi­ti­on, some of the people from the public are invi­ted to fol­low a dif­fe­rent per­for­man­ce route with the task of obser­ving the beha­vi­our, reta­ining the atten­ti­on and move­ment of the audi­en­ce during the per­for­man­ce. Half way thro­ugh they move away from the rest of the audi­en­ce, come into the spa­ce of the per­ma­nent dis­play divi­ded from the area of the Baunet Café by glass panels. From the­re they obser­ve the fur­t­her cour­se of the per­for­man­ce, but do not hear anyt­hing, the­ir atten­ti­on being tran­sfer­red to the beha­vi­our of the public. With glass mar­ker pens they draw the move­ments of the audi­en­ce, the den­sity of its lin­ge­ring at a given spot, the focus of atten­ti­on or wri­te wor­ds that des­cri­be the­se thin­gs. The per­for­mers on the other hand use the­se notes as cho­re­ograp­hic ins­truc­ti­ons and grap­hic nota­ti­ons for fur­t­her acti­ons. In this sen­se, then, this part is the cli­max in which all beco­me both per­for­mers and audi­en­ce and in which the spa­ti­al lines of for­ce of the muse­um are collected.

At the end, it is wor­th emp­ha­si­sing that the live per­for­man­ce and impro­vi­sa­ti­on do not rela­te to form but to stra­tegy; this is not a pre­sen­ta­ti­on that is hap­pe­ning befo­re an audi­en­ce, rat­her, all toget­her are drawn into the pro­cess of the work’s coming into being, which pro­vo­kes the who­le expe­ri­en­ce of par­ta­king, blur­ring the dis­tin­c­ti­on betwe­en per­for­mer and viewer and querying the indi­vi­du­al spa­ces of activity.